A few days ago, we were discussing novellas with The Selective Collective (inspired by the release and Sandie’s recent read of the Four/Divergent novellas) and we ended up having a whole giant discussion about several different aspects about marketing, reading, and purchasing novellas. Sandie told me, “Hey B! This could be a really good idea for a post!” so I told her I just may take her up on that offer… Taking it a bit further, I realized that this could easily be a repeating discussion so hopefully this will just be one of many!
I’m actually a big reader of novellas. Sometimes I feel like I’m not getting any reading done and I’m in the mood for something quick and interesting and novellas are the perfect way to satisfy that itch. There seem to be a lot of different opinions on the existence of novellas and their purpose and as we were discussing, it seemed like the more we talked about them, the more issues popped up… Here are a few of the gripes we noticed:
- There are SO many novellas nowadays. Are they really all necessary? Are authors pushed to write and publish novellas or is it just that more publishers are putting out additional content because it is doing so well?
- Novellas should not be “necessary”. I think — at least amongst our little group — that this was something everyone agreed with. Not everyone likes novellas. Not everyone reads novellas. And not everyone wants to pay for novellas. Usually they’re just extra information about characters or scenes but we noted a few series where plot actually progressed and people who hadn’t read the novellas were confused.
- Pricing can be an issue. Sometimes I don’t want to pay $4 or $5 for a novella. I can get a paperback for that price, depending on the book. If it’s something that I REALLY want to read, I will buy it, but that is a deterrent sometimes. I’m not saying all novellas should be free because there’s still a lot of hard work that goes into to writing and putting out this extra content… But I think pricing needs to be taken into consideration. I really like the collection of Sarah J. Maas novellas as THE ASSASSIN’S BLADE and I think the novellas are both worth the money and the series have a big enough fan base to warrant and actual hardcover copy. There were debates on the DIVERGENT novellas because of the content (some weren’t as impressed) but I think DIVERGENT still has quite a large fan base full of people who are dying to own them as a physical copy. Others have been printed in paperback, I know, and others only available as digital copies. It seems like people are very picky about spending money on novellas and since they’re short stories, it seems to be more of a debate as to exactly how much they should cost.
I’ve read a lot of novellas these past couple years and a lot of people seem to be really hesitant about picking them up, so I’m going to do the natural thing. Compare them and pit them against each other. Ready for a Showcase Showdown?
THE HARDCOVER COLLECTION
>> THE ASSASSIN’S BLADE vs. FOUR: A DIVERGENT STORY COLLECTION <<
These seemed to be the main two when hardcover collections come to mind since they’re some of the most recent ones. Having just read the THRONE OF GLASS novellas and hearing some not-as-positive things about the DIVERGENT ones, I’d say THE ASSASSIN’S BLADE is the clear winner. There are quite a few stories from Four’s POV but they don’t really seem to offer much in the way of extra character development or extra scenes. THE ASSASSIN’S BLADE features five different novellas that really add almost a whole extra book to the THRONE OF GLASS series. If you’re looking to purchase a shiny hardcover copy of your favorite novellas, make it THE ASSASSIN’S BLADE!
THE EXTRA IN THE HARDCOVER SPECIAL EDITION
>> CARSWELL’S GUIDE TO BEING LUCKY vs. THE DEMON IN THE WOOD <<
You know my love for Carswell Thorne as well as BOTH The Lunar Chronicles and The Grisha Trilogy… So this should be a hard decision. Actually, it’s a fairly easy one for me. Both of these stories are available ONLY in the special edition of the hardcovers of these books (the Target version of CRESS and B&N version of RUIN AND RISING) and before I tell you which one to choose, let me tell you that I actually did purchase both copies of these IN ADDITION TO the copies I already had because I had preordered from Amazon. I was going to get rid of my extra copy of CRESS but I can’t give it away. Anyway… Is it worth buying the extra copy or the special edition? It is for THE DEMON IN THE WOOD! I thought the Darkling short story was really, really good and so interesting. How does Thorne NOT win out, you ask? Well, I enjoyed the short but it wasn’t as impressive as I had hoped. It was cute and short and sweet, giving you a glimpse of teenager Thorne, but I didn’t feel like it added that much to his character to buy a whole second book. Borrow that one from your friends. Buy the one with the Darkling extra!
THE ONES ABOUT SECONDARY CHARACTERS
>> NIGHT OF CAKE AND PUPPETS vs. ROAR AND LIV vs. HANA <<
Pitting three against each other this time! HANA was actually one of the first novellas I read and it was pretty interesting! I liked that it introduced us to her POV since she was a voice in the last DELIRIUM novel… But I’m picking two winners with NIGHT OF CAKE AND PUPPERS and ROAR AND LIV. Starting with ROAR AND LIV — Veronica Rossi’s novellas are some of my favorites and I’ve really enjoyed them. I love her writing and I think each novella just brings so much more character development and really allowed me to fall back into that world. I really, really adored NIGHT OF CAKE AND PUPPETS by Laini Taylor. Mik and Zuzanna are some of my favorite secondary characters EVER and the novella featuring these two was just plan adorable. Amy actually gifted it to me but I would happily pay for it. It was that good!
HANA was enjoyable but I didn’t really feel like it was all together necessary or that gripping. If you’re on the fence, I don’t think you’re missing too much by skipping it.
Well those are my choices! For those of you who have read them, would you agree? What novellas do you think are worth the read? Or are any of them worth it? Which ones turned you into a novella-supporter?
18 thoughts on “Showcase Showdown : Novellas”
I just found your blog and love this feature! I feel the same about novellas; I don’t mind them, but only as extra and not required to finish a series. Most novellas I’ve read are in romance fic (non-YA) and they really vary. Some feel like they should be a full length book all squashed into a small format.
How did I not know there was a Darkling short story? I hate when the stories only come with special editions of the books! The only one of these I’ve read is the Daughter of Smoke and Bones one and I really enjoyed it too. They’re such a cute couple and bring levity to the otherwise darker sequel.
I agree, novellas shouldn’t be required, as in if you don’t read them you won’t miss anything in the main books. I also agree that sometimes the prices are just too steep for something as short as a novella. I did read The Assassin’s Blade and I thought it added a nice touch to the Throne of Glass series, I liked that it was a prequel. I haven’t read the Four short stories and I’m not sure I will. I honestly don’t usually read novellas, even ones in relation to my favorite series.
I have never read a novella! I just always pick up a new book when I finish reading one but I really want to change this because I really think I will love some of the content that novellas have to offer. Like I own duplicate copies of the Throne of Glass novellas and have yet to read them WHAT KIND OF FAN AM I? I KNOW that I will love them. I just.. have problems. But I agree with you that novellas should not be necessary. I never want to feel like I have to read a novella to fully enjoy a story. I’m also not sure I would pay $4 of $5 dollars for them. I originally bough the ToG novellas on Kindle and only have duplicates because I bought The Assassin’s Blade. I would probably continue the kindle route with the ones I do decide to read, but I still hope they aren’t $4 or $5.
Oops, it posted and I wasn’t ready — I was going to mention Adam’s novella from the Shatter Me series. I honestly felt a little ripped off when I paid for it and read it because half of it covered events that had already occured int he previous book and offered no new insights from the new POV and… well.. not much happened. That’s when I feel like a novella is just unnecessary.
Super interesting post!! Sometimes I just need something quick to read and then novellas are a good bet. But I almost never enjoy them THAT much. And sometimes if they’re only in certain editions I skip it because I just can’t afford that many multiple copies. However, the assassin’s blade! I adored all of them because it wasn’t essential to the story but added SO MUCH MORE DEPTH to celaena’s character! And yes, it was like its own book too. Ones that are just in a different POV sometimes bug me because I’m like.. ok… I know the story. and especialyl if it doesn’t reveal anything big, it just ends up feeling like the same thing.
You come up with the coolest posts!
The first novella that came to mind was Roar and Liv (soooooob). I think it’s a necessary read for any Under the Never Sky fan – I mean, it’s about ROAR. I’ll take anything I can get of him. 🙂
It’s funny, I’ve read Night of Cake and Puppets without having read the rest of the series, because I really wanted a taste of Laini Taylor’s writing. And wow, I was super impressed. Plus the romance was just adorable!
I like novellas that are more companion story than anything else. I agree that they need to 100% not contain information necessary to the series – Night of Cake and Puppets is a perfect example. I love these characters and seeing an event that is referenced get played out in detail is a treat, especially since it’s an extra helping of Laini Taylor’s gorgeous writing. I bought the Shatter Me novellas, but still haven’t read the Warner one because I kind of just don’t care anymore.
I did a discussion similar to this a while back and didn’t include special edition novellas, because it didn’t even occur to me! I’ve since purchased the BN exclusive Ruin and Rising, but it’s my only copy. I read the Thorne story in Cress IN Target because I’d already purchased a copy and my husband would be pretty mad if he started noticing multiple copies of books on our bookshelf. Depending on the series I might be inclined to seek out the special edition with bonus content if I knew in time (like with Cress).
This was really interesting to see. Thanks!
I like novellas to a point but really don’t think they always have to be read for every series. I prefer to borrow them from the library when I can if it’s a series I really like, or unless it’s a series I love and they have an omnibus I’ll buy that (Assassin’s Blade woo!). On your list I’ve only read Assassin’s Blade and loved it, and the Hana novella which wasn’t great.
I don’t tend to read a lot of novellas, because the ones I have read I haven’t really liked. They usually aren’t essential to the story, so they don’t really develop much of an additional plot. Sometimes they share insight, but usually they seem to be a bit of fluff. I also refuse to pay what some publishers charge for a 50 page book. Some of them have been like 3 dollars. Really?
I’m still not sure about novellas. I confess, I tend to read them when they’re free or when I can get a full matching physical collection, that’s only when. I read The Lunar Chronicles novellas, the Iron Fey and Sweet Trilogy, but they followed the above rule, but generally, I won’t rush out and get them. I do honestly think that they shouldn’t be made to improve the plot because that’s unfair, that should be the novel(s) jobs. They’re not a bad marketing tool for big fandoms, but generally, it’s a no go from me.
I don’t normally read novellas, but I just finished reading my shiny hardcover copy of The Assassin’s Blade and I absolutely LOVED it!! It really was like getting a whole new book in the series. Sarah J. Maas is just freaking amazing. Hands down. So I am going to be reading the Grisha trilogy soon and now I’m really tempted to go buy the special edition R&R even tho I already have it…
1. They must not be necessarily for the story. VERY IMPORTANT, because I don’t want to feel forced to buy the novella if I don’t feel like it. It feels unfair to write a book and then write an important novella to understand things. I like it more when it’s background stories from characters or to see the story from their POV.
2. I think some of them are ridiculous pricey. I like it when you can read them for free, like with some of Leigh Bardugo’s stories on tor.com 🙂
The assassin’s blade is the perfect example of novella’s done right. I love how they make their own story and show more of Celaena. They are well-written and provide an interesting read. I also like they can be read on their own and you could easily read the series without them. It’s a shame when novella’s are only included in exclusive copies, since I can’t buy them so easy and if I order them, the shipping costs are absurd.
The Assasin’s Blade wins at everything, because I’m reading it now and I have to keep taking breaks from reading to stroke the cover haha